I had such a fantastic time this morning running an amazing route that I just had to share!
As soon as Rue Hendel (along with Leo Acosta) posted that they were organizing a 12-mile trail run on Saturday morning right in my backyard, I knew I would have to join. In fact, there were many people who responded affirmatively, and when all was said and done, ten of us showed up (despite the rainy conditions).
We met in the main parking lot of Riverbend Park, in Jupiter, FL at 7:30 AM. There was a brief Jeff Mayer sighting, but it turns out he was just stopping by so he could pick-up a pair of trekking poles from Pete Horan for his upcoming UROC 100K in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a few weeks. (Kill it Plantslyr!) We started off just about on time and headed east down one of Riverbend’s shellrock trails, on our way to the tunnel that would help us safely cross Indiantown Road (speed limit 55!!).
From there, it was one obstacle after another–but that’s what made it so much fun! Our first obstacle included a (very slippery from the rain) wooden ladder that helped us scale a 4-foot high wire fence. Thank goodness the ladder was marked “Hiking Trail” or we might have turned around and headed back!
We ran up a ramp and alongside the road for awhile before emerging into the wet, cool woods where we saw a beautiful pond. Yup, it had started raining.
After that, we traversed a very technical woodsy trail that was covered in tree roots and cypress knees. If you don’t know what a cypress knee is then you’ve never been on a trail in Florida! Suffice it to say, it’s easy to trip over them or slip. But none of us did on this run, which is great. Another very cool thing we did was run under I-95.
I’ve been up on the road thousands of times in my car but running under it, on foot, was quite the experience!
The group was a mixed bag…comprised of folks who have crushed 100-milers with relative newbies like Phillip Jackson, Randall Madrigal, and myself. And every mile or so, whomever was up front stopped and waited for the slowpokes (like me!) to catch up. We have a rule in the Down to Run tribe-never leave anyone behind! And we’re good about sticking to it!
Soon we came to a long bridge (one of many) that looked like a great photo op. Leo, our co-host, sacrificed being in the picture to take a group shot. It was either that or sacrifice his phone in Cypress Creek because trying to balance it on the water’s edge was more of a challenge than originally thought.
Next, we came to a crossroads-at around the halfway point of our run. Here, we could continue traveling northward, cross Hobe Canal (yes…wading and possibly gators would be involved) and work our way into Jonathan Dickinson State Park, or we could turn towards the west and start heading back. We chose the latter…but not before taking some pics at the canal’s edge at Rue’s urging. “After all, we came out here to enjoy nature and have fun, right?” said Rue (or something to that effect.)
We came to a gate, which Pete graciously waited at to allow Rue and me to pass through before latching it back up again. At that point we encountered the cows. We didn’t know if they were beef cows or dairy cows but I know secretly inside we were all hoping they were of the “milk” variety. After all, they were adorable!
At this point, since I was running behind Pete, I decided to take a video of his massively powerful calves.
I figured if I was treated to this spectacle of extreme fitness I should share it with the world! But I digress…The cows were a refreshing site and we took lots of pictures of them and laughed as they galloped around the pasture–almost as if they were enjoying this unusual interruption to their otherwise peaceful, normal day.
Shortly after running with the cows, we made our way past a “pick your own” farm and headed onto the Blue Trail. Thank goodness the trails were marked clearly with colored blazes.
Soon we came to an observation platform, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but it gave the laggards a chance to rest for a few minutes, do some stretching, and even have a butt-print contest.
We were close now, maybe three or four miles to the end of our journey. It only sprinkled on us a little in the second half and the warm sunshine dried our clothing nicely. Eventually we met up with the Orange Trail again and backtracked the last mile along the same trail we had taken on the way out. After running through the tunnel and under Indiantown Road again, the end was in sight!
Since my watch only said 11.8 miles when I got back to the start, I made a quick circle around the parking lot to make it an even 12! We enjoyed some post-run camaraderie, but two of our running mates had to skedaddle (Meredith and Phil). Since it was Cinco de Mayo, the rest of us headed to Guacamole, the closest Mexican restaurant we could find (and the only one that was open at 10:30 in the morning.)
We enjoyed a nice round of water, Margaritas, beer, nachos, and other yummy delicacies, before everyone had to head out on the road to begin the rest of their weekends.
PS If you follow this link, you can see the route on the RunGo app. If you live in the area and use the app with headphones, it will literally provide turn by turn directions via voice, for easy navigation. You absolutely cannot get lost (unless your battery dies!
Also, here’s a video of the route, courtesy of Relive.
Keep running to the beat!